Get PolitiFact in your inbox.

Roy Cooper sat down with newspaper editors during the campaign for governor to talk about his ideas for North Carolina. News & Observer photo. Roy Cooper sat down with newspaper editors during the campaign for governor to talk about his ideas for North Carolina. News & Observer photo.

Roy Cooper sat down with newspaper editors during the campaign for governor to talk about his ideas for North Carolina. News & Observer photo.

By Will Doran January 5, 2017

North Carolina's 2016 gubernatorial campaign may be remembered for its negative tone and the seemingly endless debate over House Bill 2.

But in debates and speeches and campaign ads, Roy Cooper also laid out a detailed agenda. 

We identified several dozen promises Cooper made in his successful campaign for governor. And now we're launching the Coop-O-Meter, which will track how he's doing on upholding these promises.

Medicaid expansion.

Higher teacher pay.

Less standardized testing.

Tuition-free community college.

More tax breaks.

A fight against gerrymandering.

The list goes on. But it's clear that education was a major focus of his campaign– his promises include spending more money on K-12 as well as higher education, expanding Pre-K, recruiting leaders to low-performing schools and doing more to train high school students for modern-day blue collar jobs.

As we launch the Coop-O-Meter today, Cooper's promises will be deemed "Not Yet Rated." As time goes on we'll update each promise to indicate whether it's Stalled or In The Works. And once each one comes to a finish, we'll give a final rating of Compromise, Promise Kept or Promise Broken.

For a more in-depth explanation of how it will work and what the different ratings mean, please read "Coming in 2017: Announcing the Coop-O-Meter!"

In going through Cooper's campaign website, ads and debate performances, a few themes stuck out about the types of promises he made. Here's a sampling:


Some of Cooper's education promises were fairly mundane, like his vow to expand recruiting programs to bring highly qualified leaders to low-performing schools.

Others could make national news, like his proposal to make community college tuition-free (which was also the subject of an early fact-check in the governor's race).

But mostly, Cooper's promises fit a general theme: Criticizing cuts to education spending, and promising to restore that funding or fight against further cuts.

He proposed reforming the state lottery, to put more of its proceeds to education. He proposed raising teacher pay to the national average and improving North Carolina's overall per-student funding, without raising taxes to pay for it.

He promised putting more money into the UNC system – and that, in the process, he would also make college cheaper.

He also made several promises about using his influence as governor to help reduce student loans for North Carolinians.


One economic promise we'll be tracking was to "work to bring back those jobs lost because of HB2" (which we previously found amounted to at least 1,400 jobs).

Cooper also said he fundamentally disagreed with the recent Republican-led income tax cuts, which were partially paid for by eliminating some tax deductions and creating dozens of new sales tax categories (the subject of a fact-check during the campaign).

Cooper said the tax changes helped the rich far more than the middle-class or the poor (PolitiFact looked into a similar claim in 2014, ruling Mostly True).

We couldn't find any instance of Cooper promising to repeal those tax changes en masse. But he did have a few specific tax-related promises.

He said that if there's a budget surplus, he will reinstate a tax credit for child care expenses. He also said he would reinstate the film tax credits that had been a highly divisive issue before being repealed under McCrory.

Cooper also made a series of promises about programs to help small businesses and entreprenuers – including a promise to seek private funding to help start a state-run microloan program.

Quality of life

Cooper also made several promises aimed at the quality of life in North Carolina – particularly for rural and/or low-income residents.

He promised to give more people health care coverage by expanding Medicaid, and to "ensure" that access to high-speed wireless internet expands into all corners of the state.

He also promised to expand Pre-K programs, to improve the quality of child care facilities and to guarantee parents more leave from work to attend their childrens' school activities.

And all of these are only a few of the promises we'll be keeping an eye on. Go to to keep up with all the updates.

Sign Up For Our Weekly Newsletter

Our Sources

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Will Doran

Gov. Roy Cooper's top campaign promises: The Coop-O-Meter